Wingleader's Chicken Chatteau - Coop-in-Progress

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Wingleader, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Wingleader

    Wingleader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey all! Prepare for a very long post. But there's pictures! So yay!

    Since my fiance and I bought our house, we've been tabling making a huge chicken coop to house our feather-butts. This has been put off, sadly, because the house is practically unlivable at the moment and addressing that problem has been our priority. We been continuing to live in our current place of residence and have been commuting on a daily basis between work and school to fix things.

    But now that the weather is changing... we can't afford to put off the coop anymore lest our tiny, 13-strong flock freeze their beaks off! When we began the long, drawn-out, and horrible process of purchasing this particular house (which we had to have for location reasons, it was just too perfect) we put together a horrible monstrosity of a coop with the spare bits of junk the previous owner had left lying around. We had to do this because we were becoming the new owners of a few free-ranging chickens the man had left and they were wreaking havok at the neighbor's birdfeeders. The "coop" part was an old box pallet, that (I think) fireworks were shipped in, turned on it's side with a few boards nailed to it to make a wall and door of sorts. The "run" was random bits of 2x4 banged into the ground with chickenwire and bits of fence stapled to the outside. Over the weeks we had to add onto it to make more space. It worked/works, but it's hardly a thing of beauty.

    You can see it behind the trailer here:

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    Not a pretty sight, to be sure.

    So, we finally figured we need to get this permanent coop going. After picking a spot, we went about figuring out what we wanted to do with it. Whatever it was, it had to be really strong. There's a creek on the backside of the property that likes to flood and while where we chose isn't in the greatest flood threat range, we weren't going to take chances, so that was the first issue to tackle: making it flood-proof. The previous owner had a deck up on stilts that was completely smashed to bits in the flooding from last hurricanes that hit the east coast so a stilt-design wasn't what we wanted. That, and we weren't keen on having a huge gap between the bottom of the coop and the ground that the chickens/other things could get into that we couldn't and making the stilts 4 or 5 feet high off the ground was out of the question. So that's how we landed on the question "why not make it like a tiny little house?"

    Concrete block and cement floor foundation it was! Strong and sturdy so that it couldn't be washed away in flood water, and even if the water did make it into the coop, the damage would be negligible. All right!

    Stage One! The Foundation!

    I forgot to take pictures of the very first part of this, but it wasn't too complicated. We laid out where we wanted the coop (which would be 8 feet by 8 feet) and dug a trench that was about a foot deep and a foot wide in a square. The grass that was dug up was shaken free of its dirt and thrown in for the chickens to dig in and eat. There were worms, too, and I think that was their favorite part. :) Next, we packed the trench with a few inches of gravel, tamped it down nice and flat, leveled it, and then slapped in some mortar and laid down the first course of cinderblocks. As a disclaimer, we are in no way professionals, so we neglected to consider the extra bit of space to butter the sides of the blocks and we had to nix doing it. Still looks nice though!

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    Next, the second course of blocks! We test-fitted all of the blocks first and then moved them to the side of where they'd be placed (as seen below).

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    We're going to be placing 2 inch paver stones on the tops of the blocks to seal up the holes, though before that we're going to be recycling some old styrofoam insulation from the house to stuff it in the open spaces. It won't make a big difference as far as keeping heat in goes, but every little bit counts!

    The first picture below shows my fiance (yeah, we're young'uns!) packing the styrofoam into the spaces. The first bag of mortar managed to cover all of the second course of bricks and over half of the pavers! You can also see that our laying wasn't totally perfect and things got shifted a bit, so we had to fill some gaps with mortar. We weren't too concerned since this isn't a huge, live-in space for people or anything.

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    After this we dug out the middle and I squirted some crack-filler into all of the joints in lieu of properly spacing and mortaring the blocks in the first place. Woops. Then we had to fill the whole thing with gravel in preparation for the cement slab that will become the floor of the coop!

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    Now, onto the cement! We bought 25 80 pound bags (2000 pounds total yeesh!) of cement mix and, considering that we would probably be dead within 10 bags if we tried to mix it ourselves, rented an electric mixer from Home Depot. We're lucky, too, because it was a brand new mixer that no one else had used yet! Awesome! It worked great. So, four hours and sore muscles later we had mixed and poured all 25 bags.

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    I'm a bit of an idiot and didn't get pictures of the smoothing out of the wet cement or even of it after it had been done! Instead, here's a picture of the whole shebang after we covered it with a tarp for curing. Hopefully I'll have pictures of the finished slab soon!


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    Okay! I went out to the house to work on the coop some more. Everything looked to be in order with the cement except for a low spot that was pooling some water near the back side. No big deal! I proceeded to clean that up and then brushed down all of the concrete blocks. Time to paint it up using Drylok masonry waterproofing paint!


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    The floor needs one more good coat and then we're going to be putting down epoxy floor coating or something similar.

    My cat, Rebel, stopped by to "oversee" the whole painting process.

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    That's it for now. Thanks for reading! More updates soon!
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  2. Wingleader

    Wingleader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Okay, and we're back with some more progress. Since last time we've come up with a name for our coop: Cluckingham Palace.

    Stage 2: The Building

    With the foundation near completion, we started building a relatively simple stick-frame building on top of the cinderblocks. We're going to have a lean-to sort of shape to this, with 16 foot 2 by 6 boards acting as the roof beams. When all is said and done, the angled roof will continue into the run. Using an online calculator, we figured out the exact angle we're going to need for the roof and using that we laid out the measurements and began putting the walls together 1 at a time. We made sure to place some sill-guard (the blue stuff) between the cinderblocks and the wood to keep moisture from rotting the 2x4s. After that, we tapcom screwed the bases of the walls into the cinderblocks themselves.

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    You'll notice that the images above only show three sides and the reasoning behind this was that we wanted to make sure the doorway fit correctly in the space and figured that getting the rest of the walls up and together first would help because it would take any guesswork out of it. There's also a hole in the right wall that looks like it's going to be a window. In actuality, we're going to be building an aluminum can solar heater right into the wall so that the coop has built-in heating.

    We waited to put the sheathing on until after Hurricane Sandy made its way through so that we didn't tempt fate by presenting it with a big plywood sail. The pictures below feature the half-built coop sporting it's lovely tarp covering in lieu of having all of its walls and roof.

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    The photo above shows the wooden frame for the last wall in place and awaiting its sheathing. Since that photo was taken, the door has since been installed and most of the sheathing is in place, so I can soon get some photos to share.

    Toodles for now!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  3. chickenbythesea

    chickenbythesea Chillin' With My Peeps

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    all I can say is wow
     
  4. NakaFlight

    NakaFlight New Egg

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    Hey Kaiser =)
    I'm really looking forward to seeing this come along more. I've gotten a building with concrete flooring to build my coop inside. Thank you for a wonderful step by step progress report. It's very helpful.
     
  5. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Milan, MI
    Just 2 words:

    Brick house!
    Wow! That's a coup that will last!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Great build you have going there! Don't you love those cement blocks? They work excellent for foundations and keep the night time marauders at bay. Keep up the great work!
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Rachy

    Rachy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, looking good! [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Wingleader

    Wingleader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you everyone! I will have some more updates on this soon. I've been having a very busy time of late. [​IMG]
     
  9. taylynnp

    taylynnp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 22, 2013
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    nice!
     
  10. Wingleader

    Wingleader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Phase 2 (Continued)

    Alright, let's continue this. Apologies for the delay. I do not think I mentioned this before, but much of what caused the lapse in my attentiveness to this was the passing of my father in October. Anyway, since the last post I've actually gotten the coop to a state of "semi-finished" and chickens have since been moved in.

    When we left off, the foundation had been finished and painted and three of four walls were up and covered with plywood sheathing. The fourth wall was installed, and a few steps I left out of the previous post were the placing of the sill gasket (the blue stuff) on the final wall:

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    ...and the placing of the 2"x6" block that would start the frame for our doorway:

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    We attached all of the 2"x4"s to the paver stone caps with masonry screws every foot and a half or so, which keeps everything very sturdy. In house building, large lag bolts tend to be more common, but we didn't need anything quite that hefty here.

    Whenever drilling into masonry, such as concrete blocks, we use masonry screws (in this case, the blue Tapcom brand) and the proper bit for drilling into such a hard surface. Generally, Tapcom screw packages will come with a bit in them, as they dull very quickly and you'll go through them like candy if you're drilling a lot. Also, a thing to be aware of is the necessity of the proper type of drill. We are using a large hammer drill here on the hammer setting (which throws some extra punch into the drilling process) which is almost a MUST. We had to swap out batteries every 10 to 15 minutes, so having multiples is handy. Always always always wear goggles and hearing protection when doing this. Things can chip off and fling at your face and It is VERY loud. It takes a good long while to drill each hole, which means a lot of constant, dangerous noise.

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    So, the doorframe was built (which can be seen in my previous post) and the last wall was thrown up. The door (which we found being given away for free in someone's front yard) was fit into place and fit snugly enough that we haven't actually installed the catch plate for the latch yet. The frame will need some planing down to let the door swing freely, but at the moment it's great.

    The step after that was to begin wrapping the building up. In this sort of building, it might not be necessary, but we want this to last a long time, so we're weather proofing it just as a house would be. We're using Tyvek house wrap, which is a relatively inexpensive material. A single three foot roll would easily have covered the entire building, but we started with scraps left over from various other house repairs before getting a fresh roll, hence the tiny piece here.

    The best way to use Tyvek wrap (or at least how I used it) is to begin at the bottom layer, overlapping where it NEEDS to cover by an inch or so and wrapping it entirely around the building, using a staple gun to tack it up as you go. Having a helper is a good idea at this point, as keeping the roll taught and straight AND stapling at the same time is a bit tricky when you're all by your lonesome. Doable, but not fun.

    Below, you can see that after we got the Tyvek up, we started placing the vinyl siding, using extra bits that we had left over, again, from house repairs. We had to get this corner piece in place before we could put the first of the posts for the run up. The piece of plywood, which is backed with blue sill gasket, is there to level out the side of the building, because the sheathing overlaps the cinderblocks to create a tight barrier between the outside and the inside of the coop.

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    Here's my fiance fitting our 4"x4" post in place, it has been painted with good quality exterior paint to prevent it from deteriorating:

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    Phase 3: The Run

    In the photo above, you can see that we've begun digging the trench for our run. We want this to be as predator-proof as we can make it, so we're creating a paver-stone barrier just below ground level. To figure out the proper height of that post, and the other posts that are going to be placed for the run, we had to throw one of our roof beams up on top of everything (held precariously in place with gravity, friction, and a lone 2x4).

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    As we did with the foundation of the coop building, we dug a trench and lined it with gravel, leaving deeper holes where our posts would be going. We then mixed our mortar and laid it down in a layer about an inch and a half thick, carefully place the pavers as we went. We were sure to lay out all of our blocks in a dry fit first, to be sure things were lining up properly.

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    After placing the first few blocks, we reached our first pole, which is two 2x4s nailed together with galvanized exterior nails. We painted the end to protect it from moisture in the soil. The rest will be painted later. Getting the pole snugly in place, one of us held it steady while the other packed in gravel up to the level with the rest of the gravel and then slapped on a bunch of mortar. We placed our next paver (which had to have the corner chipped off to sit tightly with our post) and were generous with filling out any gaps with mortar. This is not the best method of doing this, so I would recommend finding a guide for PROPERLY setting post holes. IT did work pretty well, however, so we went with it.

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    Above, you can see the continued progress with the paver stone trench and the placed posts. A NOTE: When placing each of the run posts, we did NOT cut them to height immediately! This was to be sure that after everything was in place, that we could drop the roof beams down next to them, measure the height on each, string a level line across all of them, and cut them to be level. It is a LOT easier to do that after everything is together, than trying to dig holes to the perfect depth. You can see the roof beam below sitting next to our first post, showing us where to cut. We cut these down with a battery-powered circular saw (BE CAREFUL doing this, it can be dangerous if you are on a ladder. Be sure to have a helper support you!).

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    Below, you can see the first side of posts in place with 2x4 spacers laying flat on top of the pavers and 2x4 planks laid on top of each of the posts. These were screwed directly to the blocks, in much the same way as the walls of the coop were screwed to the foundation. Again, we painted everything in exterior paint to protect the wood from moisture. We also did this as we went along, letting the paint dry as we worked on other areas. I created little triangular blocks to strengthen the posts with their cross beams and the base and screwed those in sideways, dabbing paint on the exposed screw heads to protect them.

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    Getting this all laid out took a good deal of time and patience, measuring and remeasuring things to be sure stuff fit together properly. Measure twice, cut once, as the old saying goes! We repeated this process on the other side of the coop, though the posts were MUCH longer to match the high side of the coop building (we had to purchase extra long 2x4s for that section, ten foot long planks to be exact). We did not create a sort of "wing" out from the other side, but simply continued the high wall of the building straight into the run which is parallel to the long side of the run shown above. The floor plan would look something like this:

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    | | |
    |coop | |
    --------- |
    | run |
    | |
    ----------------

    OKAY, that's it for now! More to come soon!
     

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